Midway through our second day of the cruise we stopped in Bermuda. We will overnight here before heading out to 4+ full days at sea. Boris and I have been to Bermuda several times. It is a colder, cleaner, and more expensive version of many islands in the Caribbean. It is also very British. This is the home of the famous Bermuda shorts. In their linen version with socks, Bermuda shorts are the island’s formal wear for men. I made a few sightings, just none I could photograph (successfully).
Unlike the large ships which have to dock at the more remote western side of the island at the Royal Dock Yard, our smaller ship (approximately 650 passengers) can pull right up to the dock along Front Street in the centrally-located capital city of Hamilton. We were a block or so away from the city’s historic and political attractions. Shopping was across the street. As return visitors, the only thing we bought were some shorts for Boris. Sometimes you need to make a size adjustment.
Given a mid afternoon arrival, we took our time leaving the ship and wandered around nearby. Boris wasn’t too keen on me getting close to the Cabinet Building. But hey, the gate was open so I walked in to get a photo. “The Cabinet Building was designed in 1837, by an officer of the Royal Engineers then serving in Bermuda. When it was first opened in 1884, it was known as The Public Building and housed the Customs and Treasury Departments and the Bermuda Library on the ground floor with the Council Room and the Secretariat on the upper. [With the exception of nine years between 1969 and 1977,] [i]t has remained the home of the Council and the Secretariat ever since.”
We walked uphill along Parliament Street and passed the Sessions House, a beautiful Italianite-style building “home to Bermuda’s Supreme Court and one of the world’s oldest parliaments. The two political parties face each other across the floor, with the bewigged Speaker overseeing the proceedings. Spectators are welcome to observe political debates from the public gallery.”
I found it amusing that Bermuda Attractions notes that the two of the most important issues to be decided there include “a strong debate on whether to allow motor vehicles in the island [which] was finally voted “yes” in 1946 [and a] move to get McDonald’s and other fast-food franchises in the island was voted “no” in 1995. To that end, I did spot a KFC along Queen Street in Hamilton.
As we walked around the capital city of Bermuda, it was clear that the primary mode of transportation was the scooter. They were parked everywhere and many door fronts noted that helmets had to be removed to enter. I wondered if this was a security measure so you could see (or a camera could catch) the face of the person who entered. Plenty of times, we had to step around helmets that persons had plopped on the ground next to them.
A fair number of the city’s places of worship are indeed found along Church Street, the Anglican Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity dominating the landscape. The Cathedral was still sporting its Easter decorations with bouquets of flowers and palm leaves adorning each pew. The Cathedral features some beautiful stained glass and wood carvings near the altar. The wonderful tiled floors were also a special feature.
While many visitors enjoyed the inside, locals and tourists alike enjoyed the grounds and steps as a place to take a rest in the cool breeze. The temperature was only about 71 degrees Fahrenheit, but it felt very warm outside. We didn’t notice a lot of air conditioning.
Just past the bus depot was the whitewashed City Hall and Arts Center. I loved the tower compass and the ship on top of the weathervane acknowledging Bermuda’s rich maritime history. This city is exceptionally clean, even in areas where lots of people congregate. There are also beautiful parks where locals took advantage of the benches under the shade trees.
Back on Front Street, we admired the tile art that lined the sidewalk. Boris spotted the store where he and Rocky had gotten Bermuda shorts on a previous visit. Inside he went. I walked away from the counter and there he was with a pair of white shorts while various shades of colored ones lined the walls. After he confirmed his size, I convinced him that some others were in order. He added some shirts too. We headed back to the ship before tonight’s onboard entertainment, the White Night.
This evening was Azamara’s traditional White Night party. The pool deck and the one above are transformed with dining tables set for a dinner under the stars. It doesn’t always work out. We have been on cruises were it was cancelled due to rain or it was just too cold to be out. We learned early that you need to go when the event begins (or a half hour before that) to get seating.
The guests also dress in white and although you are not really told ahead of packing, most of the guests were indeed dressed for the occasion. The dinner was exceptional with lovely steaks, grilled lobster, and other wonderful seafood, salad, and side items. The dessert buffet is lavish and the ship’s officers made crepes suzette on deck. There is local entertainment and then music and dancing with the entertainment staff before the party moves inside with the DJ sometime after 10 pm.
Since we have been to the island several times and Boris is coming back in June, he wasn’t up for further adventures in Bermuda on this trip. Bermuda is actually a series of small islands. Even though we didn’t view them on this trip, I wanted to mention that there are beautiful beaches on Bermuda, some with sand and beach facilities. It is worth taking both a land tour of the islands and a boat tour around if you are not arriving by cruise ship.
Bermuda is not known for scuba diving, although diving is available. Snorkeling is a better bet. There are some shipwrecks to see. To get your aquatic fix, you might prefer to rent from the variety of watercraft available.
I do enjoy a visit to St. George, the original capital of the island. This well-preserved historic town dating from the 1600s is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can visit St. Peter’s which claims to be the oldest Anglican church in the western hemisphere to be in continuous use. You can also visit the Unfinished Church (unfinished due to infighting among the parishioners) in St. George. The town also serves as a launch point for many water activities.
Another popular attraction in this area is St. Catherine’s Fort, built originally in the 1600s by the British. There is a wonderful ocean view from the fort and beaches on either side. The fort is surprisingly large and found on the northeast end of the island.
Our second half-day in Bermuda was on and off again rain, but the skies cleared and our sail away from Hamilton was lovely. While listening to the music of The Fancy Triplets, a three girl band from the Ukraine, I played “find your favorite real estate” and had to chose between a house on a hill, one on its own island, one with its own lagoon, and one with its own dock. I think it will require another viewing to make my selection.
The weather was beautiful. The band was fun. You have got to love a band that starts its set with La Cucaracha. The view was fantastic. This will be our last land sighting for almost five days. And here we go…